COVID-19: The key steps to strengthening airport resilience during times of crisis

ACI World by ACI World | May 13, 2020

In today’s COVID-19 reality, uncertainty dominates many industries, including the airport sector.

With a fast-changing society and multiple levels of complexity, we are all dealing with rapidly evolving scenarios which are unique in nature. This has resulted in the unexpected becoming the new norm, and people having to evolve their skill sets accordingly. This baptism by fire is testing airport employees’ stock of experiences that they’ve built up throughout their career.

Uncertainty in an uncertain world

The level of stress and anxiety around uncertainty can be debilitating for many. What is important to focus on during times of crises is people coming together. Airports, stakeholders, and their support networks have made great efforts in providing resources and safety nets to keep the industry afloat and better yet, successful in times of crisis.

Airports connect the physical world in a time of uncertainty

Although a global pandemic on a mass scale is the first of its kind in such a fast-moving world, there are many recent examples of airports responding efficiently and with authority concerning other serious threats.

Terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium

On 22 March 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings occurred in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels. Skilled and agile airport employees provided quick response and the capacity to deal with the uncertain situation.

The damage to the airport was profound and although reports suggested that the airport would be closed for many months, the first flight was back up and running only 12 days after the attack and within 72 days back at full capacity. The impossible is made possible when airports work together and prepare for the unexpected.

Resilience in crisis: 7 Key steps

To ensure airports remain proactive and able to adjust to numerous global threats, there are seven key steps airports can take to better their outcomes, which include:

  1. Remembering that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel
  2. Taking personal responsibility and leadership
  3. Supporting others rather than behaving selfishly
  4. Prioritizing communication
  5. Not panicking
  6. Paying attention to the wellbeing of everyone
  7. Keeping the big picture in mind
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Resilience in Crisis with Dr. Richard Plenty and Terri Morrissey
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As Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World has stated many times, “When you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen one airport”. Unique in their size, capacity, and location – the way in which one airport deals with an emergency can differ greatly from another.

But lessons learned should be shared amongst airports as history has taught us, this is the key to achieving better response rates and best practices throughout the entire industry. We can all learn from each other and adjust accordingly.

Together airports will move forward in a post COVID world, with better response rates and smarter technologies – one learned lesson at a time.

ACI World
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